Apple’s Siri can now process many requests without an internet connection

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(Credit: Apple)

Apple’s voice assistant Siri is now smart enough to work without an internet connection for many requests. In addition, the company is expanding Siri to third-party smart home devices.

During WWDC, Apple announced that it had upgraded the voice assistant with “on-device voice recognition”. This means that your voice commands are processed by default on an iPhone or iPad, without sending the data to Apple’s servers.

“This addresses the biggest privacy issue we hear from voice assistants – unwanted audio recordings,” said Erik Neuenschwander, Apple’s director of user privacy.

Credit: Apple

In 2019, Cupertino halted a program that allowed the company’s contractors to listen to voice recordings made by Siri, which included users’ personal information. Apple then took over the program, but the company will only let an employee review an audio sample of a Siri request if you have opted for the “Siri Rating Program.”

To demonstrate voice recognition on the device, Apple showed that you can use Siri to launch apps, change settings, and control music on an iPhone without an internet connection. Siri will be able to understand and execute commands, such as opening the calendar and activating Airplane Mode, within seconds.

The company hasn’t mentioned which iPhone and iPad models will support voice recognition on the device. But the technology relies on the device’s “neural engine”, which the company debuted in the A11 processor found in the iPhone 8.

Siri thermostat

Credit: Apple

The other big change to Siri is the way Apple opens the voice assistant to third-party manufacturers through the iOS 15 update.

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“We believe Siri is most powerful when it’s available throughout your home,” said Yah Cason, senior engineer at Apple. “For the first time, manufacturers of HomeKit accessories can enable Siri in their products. So you can talk to Siri on even more devices.

As an example, the company showed a thermostat with built-in Siri. Voice processing will also occur on the device, so no data will be transferred to external servers. The first third-party accessories featuring Siri will arrive later this year.

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